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Memoir Musings, Issue #102--May issue--Celebrate Memorial Day and the End of School
May 15, 2008

Welcome to Memoir Musings

Welcome to Memoir Musings, your newsletter from Extraordinary Lives. Our goal is to inform and inspire you to save your family stories in books, videos, memory books and other forms of memoir.

If you enjoy the newsletter, please forward it to friends and family who might enjoy it too.

Enjoy your life story journey.

Honoring Our Veterans

The recent funeral for Keith “Matt” Maupin, United States Army Private First Class, was an agonizing reminder that life can be fleeting for any soldier in harm’s way. While we grieve the loss of many young soldiers in the Middle East, we are also suffering the loss of our oldest soldiers as WWII and Korean War Veterans pass away.

The Library of Congress launched the Veterans History Project in 2000 to record, preserve and make public the stories of soldiers and civilians supporting war efforts.

Trained volunteers from around the country are conducting interviews of veterans and collecting original wartime memoirs, letters, original photos, movies, maps and scrapbooks. (They will only accept originals of these items - no copies.) The interviews and documents are cataloged and housed by the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. Please take a look at

The site includes stories from WWI through the current conflict in Iraq. You can read, listen to and watch stories of war through the words and eyes of people who served and those who remained home, contributing in factories, hospitals and homes.

The project puts a human face on war and conveys as no history textbook can, both heroism and horror.

If your family has living Veterans, please consider saving their stories for this endeavor. The web site has a Field Kit to enable Veterans to submit their own stories, or you can check the list of Partners on the web site to find volunteers to help. I am a volunteer and would be honored to interview your Veteran and submit his/her stories to the Project.

The project’s web site is an extraordinary reminder of the power of stories to honor, educate and inspire. I hope you visit it.

Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day.

Family Corner - School Year Memories

May spells the end of school, to the delight of students and teachers. It also means a mound of papers from lockers and backpacks may be heading your way.

Memory books are a great storehouse for school stories and memorabilia. See this month’s How-To Column for basic memory book instructions.

A suggested list of things to tuck in your child’s school memory book includes:

  • First day of school picture
  • Final report card
  • School portrait & class picture
  • School schedule
  • Major school projects (or scans)
  • Awards and recognitions
  • Photos from school events
  • Teacher/subject names
  • Photos of school friends
  • A “typical day” schedule
  • Scans/patches from uniforms
  • Typical lunch
  • List of books read

To capture some of the easy-to-forget details, you can use a “survey” to capture a consistent set of memories from year to year. A free downloadable form is posted on our web site (see link below).

Compiling the year’s pages is a great summer activity for the family. Enjoy!

What's New at

Visit and select Memory Book Process on the Navigation Bar.

A downloadable School Memories form is available under Step 1 on that page.

Memory Book Process

Monthly Memory Prompt - Wartime Memories

The Veterans History Project has a list of suggested topics for its interview submissions. Their list includes:
  • Date & place of birth
  • Family details
  • How & why enlisted
  • Reasons for branch chosen
  • Military training
  • Military life
  • Places of service
  • Actions witnessed
  • Military friendships
  • Staying in touch
  • Coming home reception
  • Readjustment to civilian life
  • Life lessons learned

In terms of soldiers who served from home or civilians working in support of war efforts, here are some topics to explore:

  • War’s impact on daily life
  • Specific actions taken to support war at home
  • Workplace changes made
  • How kept abreast of news
  • Memories of homecoming
  • Memories of war’s end
  • Feelings about controversial issues (i.e., use of the atomic bomb, internment policies, conscientious objectors, interrogation tactics, etc.)
One final thought—when seeking stories from Veterans, be prepared for reluctance. Many have chosen not to share parts or any of their war stories, due to their own reactions to what they experienced. Give them the opportunity to share and the freedom to decline.

How-To-Tip: Memory Book Basics

The endless array of scrapbooking supplies creates both opportunity and challenge for the new scrapbooker. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when starting a memory book. Truth be told, you need just minimal supplies to get started:
  1. Pages with protective sleeves
  2. A book to hold your pages
  3. Adhesive
  4. Journaling pen
  5. Paper trimmer
  6. One or two colors of coordinating cardstock for mounting & journaling
That’s it! All other supplies, from stickers to die cut machines, are nice but certainly not necessary.

Here are four simple steps to get started.

First, select supplies to preserve your memories; that is, materials that are safe for photos and made to last. Pages and cardstock should be acid-free, lignin-free and preferably buffered. Adhesive must be acid-free and pass the Photograph Activity Test (PAT). Pens should be light-fast, water-resistant and acid-free.

Second, organize your materials, either by theme (i.e., school memories) or chronology.

Third, select, arrange, mat if desired, and adhere the photos and memorabilia to your pages according to your organization scheme.

Fourth (and most-ignored), write the stories underlying the photos and memorabilia and include on the pages.

Everything else is, as they say, gravy.

Memory Book Starter Kit Sale

May is National Scrapbooking Month and we are celebrating with a Memory Book Starter Kit sale! The kit contains everything you need to get started: a 12 x 12 inch cloth-covered memory album (tan, red or navy) with 10 page protectors, neutral 12 x 12 cardstock pages, 2 packages of coordinating 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, a paper/photo trimmer, adhesive, journaling marker. Regular price is $95; save $10 if you order by May 31. Call 513-385-1637 to place an order.

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